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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Su'a Cravens (08-06-2017)

Posted Aug 6, 2017

A transcript of Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and safety Su'a Craven's press conferences August 6, 2017.

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On roughing the passer penalties and the difficulty of players not instinctively grabbing quarterbacks:

“That’s always difficult, especially when they’re on their way down if they’re getting pulled down. That’s going to be difficult, it will. To put a target on the quarterback, obviously we want it below their head and now it’s basically above their waist. But if you get low like that and you’re crawling at the quarterback, then you have to swipe his leg and pull it. It’s a point of emphasis and something pass rushers will have to deal with. But the hardest part is when they get blocked or they get cut and they are on the ground and they’re trying to get back up. That’s the hardest part.”

On how he instructs his players about that rule:

“Well, just like the officials came in and explained it to us. That’s the best way we can explain it. It’s hard to practice that because in the heat of the battle, like you say, it’s hard to say, ‘OK, don’t get the quarterback down by tackling him by the legs.’ As long as you go to a side and tackle like that, it’s OK. You just can’t do that [pull], right?”

On if it being game week changes the team’s plans for practice:

"No, we’re still in training camp, really. I think we’re going to handle today and tomorrow [as] training camp. Tuesday we’ll shorten down a little bit, Wednesday we’ll have a walkthrough, play Thursday." 

On if he has any idea of how long the starters will play Thursday:

"Not yet. We’ll see how we get through the next two practices, see where we are."

On high-profile injuries around the league and if fear of them plays a role in determining how many reps starters get:

“That’s one of the great dilemmas you have, really. It’s how much you want to play them. You have got to get them ready. There is no substitute for practice and playing in some preseason games to get them ready to go, but again, that’s a risk involved in pro football. No matter if it’s a preseason game or not, injuries do take place. There’s a fine line there. There’s certain guys that will get probably a little bit more than others, but we will make that judgment when the time is right.”

On areas in which he told RB Chris Thompson to improve and if Thompson has done so:

“I have seen him get better. You know, Chris is a pro and I think the way he finished the year was pretty good at his craft. He was really a third down back for us but he did get some carries in critical times. First, second down, there is some feature plays we like for him in the backfield. But I think when you’re talking about Chris, you’re talking about taking care of your body in the offseason; getting a little bit stronger, just continuing to work on your craft. I’ve never had an issue with Chris. He’s one of the smartest players on our team. You’re always looking to get better and I think his way of getting better is to take care of his body in the weight room, obviously running and keeping himself in shape, which he has.”

On CB Josh Norman’s work ethic and what he brings to the defense:

“Yeah, I think he’s finding his niche as a leader and his work ethic is rubbing off on everybody. I mean we’ve got a lot of guys that work extremely hard, but when you sign a contract like Josh signed, you know, players can take it a couple different ways. But when they see how hard he works and how hard he prepares after practice, before practice – you see him with a soccer ball; that’s not an indication of what he does – but he works extremely hard. He’s a great player for us and he’s a great leader. He’s still finding his way, so to speak, but the intensity that he brings to the defense is excellent.”

On the steadying presence of LB Ryan Kerrigan:

“Yeah, you know, not a lot people talk about Ryan anymore. He’s just always there, he’s a mainstay for us and he’s a very productive player. He’s an excellent player against the run, which goes unnoticed sometimes by a lot of people. But he sets the edge extremely well. It’s hard to run to his side, and then his pass rush is still pretty darn effective. So, I think he’s still going to be a double-digit sack guy for us. Like I said before, he’s excellent against the run. I think he’s in great shape right now. You know, you want to try to hold him out of some practices, make sure you don’t put too much wear and tear on his body, but he’s going strong right now and he’s looking very, very polished and in great shape.”

On the secondary and competing against the receivers in the NFC East:

“We’re going to need the pass rush going effectively. How they mesh together is going to be the tail of how our defense plays, quite frankly. You’ve got [Bashaud] Breeland, you’ve got Josh [Norman], you’ve got D.J. [Swearinger] and you’ve got Su’a [Cravens], they are playing pretty well right now. We will see how they match up. You’ve got [Quinton] Dunbar that’s playing well. Kendall Fuller is doing a good job. We have other guys that are competing to try to get in the lineup. We feel like we have good depth on there but now it’s a matter of how they jell together when we start putting in all of the coverages, playing against different formations, different personnel groups and man/zone. How they jell is going to be the difference on whether we’re a great defense or a good defense.”

On WR Robert Davis:

“Robert has done some good things, not just catching the ball but blocking. I’ve been impressed with him. We’re trying to run the ball. Any time you want to be a physical, running football team, you have to have physical receivers to go in there and block safeties from time to time, sometimes even linebackers. Robert has proven he can do that. He’s not afraid, that’s for sure. He’s pancaked a couple guys already so that’s what caught my eye so far. Then he’s making his mark on special teams; he’s getting better on special teams. The other day he had a nice long touchdown catch from Colt [McCoy] and he’s doing good things in the passing game. Mentally, it’s all got to start to slow down for him but he’s getting there. He’s a big, physical, talented kid that we like.”

On what kind of camp CB Bashaud Breeland is having: 

“He’s doing good… He’s such a competitive guy. He gets in trouble sometimes, he’s so overly competitive, but for the most part, I like what he’s doing, man. He’s doing his job, working at his craft, and he’s working with a new defensive backs coach with some new fundamental techniques and some new coverages. All the defensive backs are going through a little bit of a change right now, but I’m hoping that come game time against Philadelphia we get it all squared away and they feel really comfortable. I think he’s doing good.”  

On T Trent Williams hosting the offensive linemen for workouts and the chemistry of the line:

“They’ve had great chemistry, I think, for a while, and it’s just getting better and better. I think they did that last year at Trent’s place and they did it again this year. They’ve got great camaraderie along that group. All those offensive linemen work together, they have to because they’re together so long. Coach [Bill] Callahan has a breakfast club, then he has morning meetings, then he has practice, he’s out there during special teams period, working with them after practice, then we meet again. So they better like each other, otherwise it’d be a miserable outing. I’ve been really impressed with Trent and his leadership, and his ability to bring all those people together under his wing and teaching them the ropes about how to be a pro, how to practice and how to prepare.”       

On LB Junior Galette fitting into the system:

"He's got to find his way. You know, I think I mentioned it before, the sack production that he had at New Orleans before his two injuries was pretty good, you know? So if you can sprinkle that into our defense, we're going to use him – somewhere, somehow. I think the ability to move Preston [Smith] inside from time to time will help us so we can leave Junior outside, Ryan [Kerrigan] outside, move Preston around a little bit, when Trent [Murphy] gets back, move him around a little bit. But Junior's been very good against the run so far out here. He's been an effective pass rusher, and he's doing some good things. We’ve just got to hope the trend continues – gets in better shape, better football shape. He's in great shape already, but football shape he's got to continue to work at. You know, be able to play four, five plays in a row, 10 plays in a row, whatever it might be. But, we'll find a spot for him if he can still rush the passer. No doubt." 

On if he’s considered carrying four tight ends:

"Yeah, I've thought about a lot of different scenarios, both outside linebacker, safety, corner, inside backer. I mean, we have some issues we're going to have to deal with as far as the 53-man roster. I think it'll all play out. You know, everybody's happy with everybody right now, but at the end of the day, people are going to have to perform in the preseason. They're going to have to continue to perform, be consistent performers out here on the practice field, and at the end of the day, we're going to have to make some tough decisions somewhere. Could be a tight end spot, could be safety, could be inside backer, could be outside backer. We don't know yet. We’re going to let it play out, let these guys compete, and we'll do the best we can picking the best 53."

S Su’a Cravens

On if it feels like he ever left safety:

“No, I mean, it doesn’t feel like I left safety. It feels like I’ve played sort of a version of the position throughout my college career and a little bit last year, but it definitely feels good to be a solid, set position.”

On why he is happy to be back at safety:

“I just feel like it aids my skill set. It allows me to play in the open field. It allows me to make decisions to make decisions on balls in the air, and it ultimately allows me to be a playmaker and I like that.”

On if he had to do any special conditioning to get back into safety shape:

“I condition pretty hard during the offseason, so the biggest thing I had to do was just change my diet. Once I got the weight and dropped the weight down, the conditioning can remain the same. Like I said, I work pretty hard, so that wasn’t much of a change.”

On the differences between the defenses of Joe Barry and Greg Manusky:

“They’re both great defenses, but I just think with a guy like Manusky, we’re going to be a bit more aggressive. You know, third and short distances we’re going to send a little bit more pressure, whereas for Joe B., we’d sit in a Cover 2 or Cover 3. We’d really think things out and try to read routes more than we do with this defense – which is not reading the route, just reacting to what we see or just playing the defense that he calls.”

On differences in play calling by Manusky:

“If ‘Manuss’ likes a play, he’s going to see who he has out there on the field and if he likes the matchup, he’s going to call it regardless of if somebody thinks that he should be calling something else, and it just allows us to play on the fly.”

On his versatility and the difficulty of finding a position for players with his skill set:

“I think the college game and the pro game, they are different in a lot of ways but they’re starting to get kind of similar when it comes to the pass game just because it’s all matchup. In college it’s all matchup. You’re going to take your athletic tight end if they’re going to put a 250-pound inside linebacker on him, they’re going to throw the ball to him most of the time. In the NFL, you’re starting to see that now. You’ve got guys like Gronk [Rob Gronkowski], Jordan Reed, the tight end for the Chiefs [Travis Kelce]. They’re going to pick their matchup. They’re going to get an athletic guy out there. You need guys that are bigger than corners but smaller than linebackers that can move and be athletic in open space to guard them. I think guys like me coming from college, they’re starting to produce what you need, that ‘tweener’ role that’s kind of exactly what you need for the NFL, so it’s pretty good.”

On being “the guinea pig” in that role:

“It’s tough when it’s new because they don’t know how to play you or they don’t know what to do with you. So when you have a guy that’s not really a set position, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, well, he can’t play either.’ But now you have offenses that are attacking that guy that you don’t really have to play in place now that you have that guy.”

On S D.J. Swearinger:

“He reminds me of Dion Bailey, the safety I played with my freshman year at USC. He was the guy that was always the spark plug, always loud, always communicating and talking. No matter what the period was or how the day was going, you could count on him to get an energy boost. He reminds me a lot of Dion.”

On how playing linebacker helps him at safety:

"It just helped me learn everybody’s responsibility, knowing run fits and knowing where everybody was going to be – whether it be a run or a pass – helps a lot.  As safety, I’m behind everybody, so they’re trusting me to be in the position I need to be in. It allows me to play faster, knowing exactly what they’re going to do, where the D-line’s going to fit, so it helps me sharpen up my angles."

On having officials at camp:

"I mean, it doesn’t change anything. We’re going to play how we want to play and if they are going to flag it, we’re going to get flagged. I mean, if you saw some of the things the offense gets away with, you’d understand as to why we think everything’s a bad call. So, I mean, we know it’s an offensive league, so we’re going to play to the best of our abilities and let the refs sort it out."

On getting the defense off the field on third downs:

“I think that’s kind of why we’re getting a bit more aggressive on defense. We’re not going to sit back and let the offense take their shot and hopefully we’re in the perfect defense. We’re going to come after the quarterback, we’re going to get aggressive with receivers on the edges, and hopefully our talent is better than their talent.”

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